Oneness in some theological circles is a term to describe an understanding of the trinity. That is not the meaning of oneness dealt with here. Oneness in the context of this article will denote a close unity between God and man and between all members of the human race. In the latter sense it will be somewhat synonymous with the more common expression, the “brotherhood of all mankind”.
The basic problem dealt with in the Bible is the separation between man and his creator (Isa 59:2). The Fall as described in Genesis chapter three changed the relationship between Adam and Eve and God. The former intimacy was destroyed.
In unfolding his plan to redeem mankind back to himself, God chose a special family through which to work, the family of Abraham (Genesis 12:1-3). The stated purpose of the calling of Abraham was to bring a blessing on all mankind. It seems ironic that God’s plan to reunite himself with all of mankind involved a separation process.
Meanwhile, the Gentile nations, all those outside
Throughout their national history the Jews looked for a promised Messiah, a deliverer from all their enemies (Luke 2:67-75). When that Messiah came in the person of Jesus, the Jews of his day anticipated a national deliverance from the Romans. Jesus affirmed that this was not his purpose (John 18:36). His purpose was, instead, to fulfill the covenant with Abraham, including the blessing of all nations (Gen 12:1-3, Gal 3:6-8).
Separation between God and mankind and separation between Jew and Gentile- both conditions existed prior to Christ. But that was about to change as God’s plan drew to a conclusion. The state of being reconciled was described as being “ in Christ” by the apostle Paul (II Cor. 5:17). I John 4:16 speaks eloquently of a new unity between God and man, God in man and man in God. This is descriptive of a melding of the two into a divinely ordained fusion. It defines a relationship even closer than that apparently enjoyed in the Garden. No wonder Paul exclaimed in Romans 11: 33, “Oh the depth of the riches both of the riches and knowledge of God.” Man was to be restored to his creator in a way which surpassed our wildest imaginations.
Paul, in Eph 2: 11-16, notes that work of Christ dealt with the separation and enmity between Jew and Gentile also. Men were to be restored to one another by the same process. Oneness within the human race was to be accomplished, such that the many could be one. The differentiation between the chosen and the not chosen was eliminated.
A final aspect of oneness is expressed in I Cor 15: 24-28. When Christ returned to establish his fulfilled kingdom, the separate manifestations of God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit were no longer relevant. God became “all in all”, representing the fulfilled unity of the Godhead and the completed reconciliation of God and man.
In our day the challenge before us is to recognize the essential oneness provided in Christ and to use that realization as the force behind transforming our world, a world in which God has done his part and has chosen all to be one. The implementing of what this implies is our part.